Author: Kandi Steiner
Publication Date: June 16, 2016
Publisher: Kandi Steiner
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★
I remember the lights.
I remember I wanted to photograph them, the way the red and blue splashed across his cold, emotionless face. But I knew even if my feet could move from the place where they had cemented themselves to the ground and I could run for my camera, I wouldn’t be able to capture that moment.
I had trusted him, I had loved him, and even though my body had changed that summer, he’d made sure to help me hold on to who I was inside, regardless of how the exterior altered.
But then everything changed.
He stole my innocence. He scarred my heart. He took everything I thought I knew about my life and fast-pitched it out the window, shattering the glass that held my world together in the process.
I remember the lights.
The passionate, desperate, hot strikes of red. The harsh, cruel, icy bolts of blue.
They symbolized everything I endured that summer.
And everything I would never face again.
Kandi Steiner is an author who is newer to me. I’ve read and liked a couple of her books and have wanted to read more. I decided to give Weightless a try because I was intrigued by the blurb. I liked it, but there were several things that bugged me.
Let me start with what I liked. Natalie was a character that reminded me a bit of myself in/at the end of high school. She saw herself as imperfect and not worthy of the people she loved. Natalie was overweight and bigger than the other girls. She had just been dumped and saw losing weight as the way to win back her man. Natalie put in the effort to be a healthier version of herself for someone else. I wish I could say I haven’t been in those shoes, but I have. While I didn’t love every decision she made, I loved how much she grew and became more comfortable in her own skin. That was the best part of this book — her journey.
Now, I’m going to rant a little bit. I wasn’t a big fan of most of the other characters. Mason and Shay made me pretty mad. Mason because I’ve had ex-boyfriends like him. He didn’t want to be with Natalie, but he kept her hanging on by a thread. He made her feel like she wasn’t someone to love the way she was, and that sucked. He sucked. I hated him. Shay was just an insecure mean girl. I wish Natalie could have seen that from the beginning.
Rhodes I was a little wishy washy over. The dude was good for Natalie’s self esteem, but he had some major issues. I couldn’t get past his extracurricular jobs and how Natalie was able to kind of look past it. That part of the story was a big turn off for me. It made me not want to keep reading. I did end up liking him in the end, though.
I did like the mystery surrounding Rhodes’ twin sister, but I felt it could have been more of a focus and a little more fleshed out. Her being missing was mentioned here and there, but it didn’t become a big focus until right before the end.
Basically, there was a lot of good stuff in this book. I just didn’t love it all.
Once again, I’m working on my backlist. Between the Lines is a series I’ve wanted to read since I fell in love with Tammara Webber’s Contours of the Heart series. I was excited to finally get around to reading it. Here are my thoughts on each of the four books in the series.
Between the Lines (#1) – ★ ★ ★
I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t dislike it either. Between the Lines is told in two perspectives. The first was Emma’s. She was an almost eighteen year old who was cast in a movie along side Reid, one of the hottest young stars of the moment. I liked Emma a lot. She seemed like a teenager trying to figure life out. The other perspective was Reid’s. I hated Reid. He was a tool and a jerk. It was really hard reading his thoughts and choices. He is what made me not love this book — along with the fact that there is a third player in this story. Emma also has a developing “friendship” with another actor names Graham that makes a love triangle out of this book. As this book comes to an end, big secrets are exposed and the triangle is sorted out. I’m glad it didn’t leave me hanging. In the end, this one felt a big set up for the rest of the series to me. I am going to keep reading because I’m curious and have the rest of the books.
Where You Are (#2) – ★ ★ ★
The Reid – Emma – Graham triangle continues! Well, it becomes a love square as Brooke jumps in on the action and increases the drama. I still hated Reid, but he did do one thing I respected. I loved Emma. Graham turned out to be a total sweetheart. Brooke…I loved her last book, but now I feel as good about her as I do Reid. Where you Are was a wild ride.
Good for You (#3) – ★ ★ ★
I really, really didn’t want a book about Reid falling in love. I mean, the guy is a total turd. I didn’t want it to be a woman who changed him because that wouldn’t be real life. I wanted him to change himself. That being said, I liked who Reid became. He grew up. It was refreshing to see him come to some conclusions about himself. Dori was okay. I liked all the stuff she had to go through.
Here Without You (#4) – ★ ★ ★ ★
This, in my opinion, was the best book of the series. Everything came full circle for the remaining cast of characters. I loved how it was done. I also really loved how Tammara Webber wrote River. This ended up being an interesting celebrity coming of age series. It’s worth a read if you’re a fan of the author.
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity likely didn’t intend for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night their family was forever altered.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.
I’m not sure what switched Colleen Hoover to the dark side, but I am worried that Tarryn Fisher might have figured out how to invade her brain or use mind control or some other magical junk. That’s the only thing I can come up with for how someone who writes romances so emotionally touching could write something this twisted. Okay, maybe that’s stretching things. Colleen Hoover is a talented writer, so there’s no reason she couldn’t go to the dark side on her own. (Still…)
Verity was a deeply disturbing, but extremely addictive psychological thriller. I had no idea who I could trust throughout the entire novel. All the twists surprised me, and made me question what I thought the moment before. The ending shocked me and kept me wishing for just another page. Verity was everything I like in a thriller. I hope Colleen Hoover will grace us with another book like this in the future.
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“What are you wearing?” Corey is staring down at my shirt, perplexed, just now noticing it despite having spent the last fifteen minutes with me.
I look down at my oversized shirt.For a moment, I forgot how ridiculous I look. “I spilled coffee on my other shirt this morning and had to change.”
“Whose shirt is that?”
I shrug. “Probably yours. It was in my closet.”
“You left your house in that? There wasn’t something else you could have worn?”
“It doesn’t look high fashion?” I’m being sarcastic, but he doesn’t catch it.
He makes a face. “No. Is it supposed to?”
Such an ass. But he’s good in bed, like most assholes.
I’m actually relieved when the conference room door opens and a woman walks in. She’s followed, almost comically, by an older man walking so closely behind her, he bumps into the back of her when she stops.
“Goddammit, Barron,” I hear her mumble.
I almost smile at the idea of Goddammit Barron actually being his name.
Jeremy enters last. He gives me a small nod that goes unnoticed by everyone else.
The woman is dressed more appropriately than I am on my best day, with short black hair and lipstick so red, it’s a little jarring at nine thirty in the morning. She seems to be the one in charge as she reaches for Corey’s hand, and then mine, while Goddammit Barron looks on. “Amanda Thomas,” she says. “I’m an editor with Pantem Press.This is Barron Stephens, our lawyer, and Jeremy Crawford, our client.”
Jeremy and I shake hands, and he does a good job of pretending we didn’t share an extremely bizarre morning. He quietly takes the seat across from me. I try not to look at him, but it’s the only place my eyes seem to want to travel. I have no idea why I’m more curious about him than I am about this meeting.
Amanda pulls folders out of her briefcase and slides them in front of Corey and me.
“Thank you for meeting with us,” she says. “We don’t want to waste your time, so I’ll cut right to the chase. One of our authors is unable to fulfill a contract due to medical reasons, and we’re in search of a writer with experience in the same genre who may be interested in completing the three remaining books in her series.”
I glance at Jeremy, but his stoic expression doesn’t hint at his role in this meeting.
“Who is the author?” Corey asks.
“We’re happy to go over the details and terms with you, but we do ask that you sign the non-disclosure agreement.We would like to keep our author’s current situation out of the media.”
“Of course,” Corey says.
I acquiesce, but I say nothing as we both look over the forms and then sign them. Corey slides them back to Amanda.
“Her name is Verity Crawford,” she says. “I’m sure you’re familiar with her work.”
Corey stiffens as soon as they mention Verity’s name. Of course we’re familiar with her work. Everyone is. I hazard a glance in Jeremy’s direction. Is Verity his wife? They share a last name. He said downstairs that his wife is a writer. But why would he be in a meeting about her? A meeting she isn’t even here for?
“We’re familiar with the name,” Corey says, holding his cards close.“Verity has a very successful series we would hate to see go unfinished,” Amanda continues. “Our goal is to bring in a writer who is willing to step in, finish the series, complete the book tours, press releases,and whatever else is normally required of Verity. We plan to put out a press release introducing the new co-writer while also preserving as much of Verity’s privacy as possible.”
About Colleen Hoover
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author of thirteen novels and multiple novellas. She lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas.
Series: Jock Hard, #2
Author: Sara Ney
Publication Date: December 6, 2018
Publisher: Three Legacies, LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Kip Carmichael is no pretty boy.
He’s a rough. Dirty. Giant. Hair so unruly, and a beard so thick, his friends on the team call him Sasquatch.
The first time Sasquatch lays eyes on Theodora “Teddy” Johnson across the keg at a party one night on Jock Row, she’d been relegated to the sidelines by her jock hungry “friends.”
Week-after-week, he watches beautiful but bashful Teddy getting overshadowed, and overlooked. Sasquatch finally broad shoulders his way through the crowd, offering to be her hairy godmother. But the minute their eyes meet? He’s a goner.
Teaching her the RULES for winning a jock will be the easy part. Not falling in love with her is going to be a losing game.
I am so happy the Jock Hard series is back! I loved the first book, Jock Row, and I couldn’t wait to read Jock Rule. The reason I was so excited? I love how this series is low drama and hilarious. Sara Ney has created a new adult sports romance series that is purely fun. So, my feelings about Jock Rule…
It was exactly what I was expecting! Sara Ney infused a great romance with her trademark humor. I adored the characters and reading their perspectives. They were both easy to relate to. Teddy was insecure, but a good person. Kip didn’t really care what people thought and he was real and honest. Teddy and Kip’s relationship was a fun one to read about because they felt like two people I could meet in real life. I loved how they went from almost enemies to friends to more. Teddy and Kip’s “friendship” started out really bumpy, and had all these great funny moments. Once things migrated pat friendship, things got more serious and sweet. Their chemistry was off the charts. I loved how their relationship could be all of those things and more.
I liked how friendships were explored in this book. College age really is a time where we discover what types of friendships we want and who we want them with. Sara Ney did a great job showcasing this with Kip and Teddy. Both characters kind of dealt with it in different ways, and I liked that.
The only thing I wanted Jock Rule to do was dig a little deeper. Kip and Teddy had some great talks about some important situations, but it felt like it didn’t go past surface level some times. Kip never really explained to Teddy the reason he did some things. I liked that Teddy accepted Kip for who he was now, but I just thought there was more to it than was discussed. I would have like to have seen that.
Overall, Jock Rule was an entertaining read with fabulous characters. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was sad to see end it, and I’m already anticipating the next book in the series!
Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.
She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.
When the Beautiful Hearts Duet released this past summer I wanted to read it, but I was hesitant. I know the power of Emma Scott’s writing, and I was scared to feel what her words would invoke. I also knew it had a love triangle of sorts, and I hate those. In the end, I gave in and read the duet because I knew it would be good and all of the reviews were coming in with high praise.
Bring Down the Stars – ★ ★ ★ ½
I have to start out by saying that the acknowledgements and dedications at the beginning of this book had me in tears. That didn’t bode well for my emotions. I have to be honest and say I didn’t love this book. It made me mad because of the love triangle built on lies. I was so frustrated with Weston, Connor, and Autumn while reading it. Weston made me mad because of his dedication to Connor. Connor made me mad because of his attitude about just about everything and his poor decisions. Autumn I wasn’t really mad at. I was more irritated because I wondered how she could really be so blind…but then aren’t we all when we’re falling in love?
Overall, the writing was beautiful. The poems in this book…WOW. The emotions brought on by this book…WOW. The ending…DANG. There’s no way I could take a break between books 1 and 2.
Long Live the Beautiful Hearts – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I don’t even know that I have the words to tell you how much I loved this book. This one starts off emotional and strong. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I ended up loving the direction Emma Scott took this story. I grew to really love Autumn, Weston, and Connor. How everything worked out wasn’t always easy, but it was perfect. The easy moments were almost too easy, but I didn’t mind that because I felt everything come full circle. Bravo, Emma Scott. You did your readers, yourself, and your precious daughter right.
This past weekend I knocked Love Me with Lies off my backlist. It’s been on there for years because I’m a fan of all of Tarryn Fisher’s other books. I’m so disappointed in myself for waiting so long to read it. It was crazy good — emphasis on the crazy. Here my thoughts after reading each book.
The Opportunist – ★ ★ ★ ★
That pretty much says it all.
I’m stuck using emojis for this review because I’m speechless after finishing this book. It was soooooo messed up, but in a good way. Only Tarryn can make me hate and love characters so much at the same time.
Dirty Red – ★ ★ ★ ★
This one started out bad for me. I was so disgusted by Leah. I hate Leah, but I understand her now. She grew on me as her story went on. She’s not blameless, but Caleb isn’t either. I lost some respect for him in this one. The only person I started to respect more was Olivia.
Thief – ★ ★ ★ ★
I think I liked this book? It’s hard to know because all of the characters were so messed up. I didn’t think I could end up liking them any less while also liking where the story went. I do think it was a fitting end to a crazy, addictive series.
Overall, this is a very messed up, crazy, addictive series. If you like books that will shock you and make you question everything a character does, read this series.
The Last Letter
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Publication Date: February 26, 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.
I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to Telluride.
My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.
And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.
So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.
Please don’t make her go through it alone.
So…I have found another favorite new-to-me author. Rebecca Yarros has me wanting to go back and read her backlist like now because The Last Letter was so, so good. I can’t even begin to do it justice with this review, so I am going to bullet point my likes and dislikes.
What I liked:
The letters. They start out each chapter and are perfectly tailored to the story and how it evolves.
The writing. It caught my attention from the beginning and never let go. Like I said above, Rebeca Yarros is new to me and I instantly connected to the way she puts words together. Every sentence is packed with emotion.
The plot. I won’t go into it too much, but it’s way more than what you read in that blurb. It was the perfect mixture or heartwarming and heartbreaking. Every moment had a purpose.
Ella’s children were so darn cute. Colt and Maisie were twins and their bond was too special. They also added something extra sweet to Ella and Beckett’s relationship.
Beckett Gentry. He had his moments of stupidity, but I loved his character.
I could go on and on, but I have to stop listing things because I would just give away the entire story.
What I disliked:
I didn’t connect as much as I would have liked to with Ella. I understood her reasoning for the way she acted, but her trust issues were almost too much for me at times. Especially towards the end.
Beckett’s moments of stupidity when he kept keeping that dang secret.
An event toward the end. I can’t say what it is, but I was sad the story went there. I get it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Overall, The Last Letter was a really great book. It was a romance, but it was more than just a romance. It was a touching story about family, love, war, and life. Despite my few dislikes, I thought it was brilliant.
Series: One and Only, #3
Author: Melanie Harlow
Publication Date: November 26, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
A gorgeous former Marine with a tortured soul.
The beautiful, compassionate therapist living next door.
A meddlesome grandma determined to get them together.
From USA Today Bestselling Author Melanie Harlow comes an all new standalone romance that will make you believe in the redemptive power of love.
I was expecting a proposal on my birthday, and I got dumped instead.
How could I have been so clueless?
Grams knew exactly how to distract me.
The “cute boy next door” who’s been helping her with yard work clearly needs a little therapy. Who better to call than her newly single therapist granddaughter?
She even fakes dementia to get me to visit, and now that I’m here she’s doing everything in her power to throw us together.
Not that I’m complaining. Ryan is the sexiest man I’ve ever met–I mean the full package, from the chiseled jaw to the massive shoulders to the rippling abs. (And yes, his package is full, and he knows exactly how to deliver it.) He makes me want to get out of my head and follow my heart. He makes me want to take chances I never thought I’d take.
He also makes me want to take my clothes off. A lot.
But he’s moody and challenging–one minute he’s an open book, and the next he’s completely closed off. He holds me like he’ll never let go, but insists he wants to be alone.
Some wounds are so deep, only love can heal them.
How can I convince him to let me try?
The blurb for Only Love is what attracted me to this book. It just sounded cute with the ex-Marine, Grams, and dumped on her birthday girl. I have only read one other book by Melanie Harlow that I loved, so I decided to give this one a shot. I ended up having some mixed feelings about it.
Only Love is the third book in the One and Only series. I didn’t realize that before I read it, but it didn’t seem to matter. It could easily be read as a standalone. Only Love follows the love story of Stella and Ryan. After Stella is dumped on her birthday, her Grams talks her into visiting her. Unbeknownst to Stella, Grams has decided to hook Stella up with her hot ex-Marine neighbor. Ryan’s not looking for a relationship, but neither he nor Stella can stop from acting on their attraction to each other. Soon the feelings they have for each other are making them uncomfortable in ways they didn’t see coming.
Only Love was a fun read. I loved the way it was set up. Stella and Ryan both got their own first person point of view. Grams also got to voice her thoughts here and throughout the book. It made for a very fun reading experience. Grams POV might have been my favorite because she was so sneaky! I loved that she had the best intentions and worked for the greater good.
Ryan was a complicated character. Melanie Harlow did his character justice. I would never want to be in Ryan’s shoes, but I can empathize better after reading his thoughts and feelings in this book. His reasons for shutting down his emotions were valid. I loved how Stella helped him feel again.
Honestly, I didn’t really like Stella. She was so rigid that I had hard time believing she was someone who could exist outside this book. I’m sure there are people out there who would identify in some way with her, but it wasn’t me. I was thinking back and wondering if maybe her character might have made more sense to me if I had read the first two books about her sisters?
The funny thing is that I liked Stella when it came to her relationship with Ryan. The care Stella put into her interactions with Ryan was so sweet. I liked how she truly listened to him and saw him. Stella walked Ryan through some tough moments, and it was touching. Ryan wasn’t always as nice and understanding as Stella, but he got it when it counted the most. I truly liked the relationship they ended up building together — even if I did think they had too much of an insta-love thing going on.
Overall, Only Love was a fun read. I liked how the characters and their love grew throughout the story.
Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.
Melanie is the author of the AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tapping the Billionaire comes a hilarious and sexy standalone about fate, chance, and one heck of an epically awkward meet-cute.
4th & Girl Author: Max Monroe
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
4th & Goal: A term used when the offensive team is on its final down and the goal line is the line to reach.
4th & Girl: A story where time is almost up, and the girl of his dreams is just barely out of reach.
Leo Landry, first round draft pick and the New York Mavericks newest starting cornerback, uses grit, concentration, and sheer determination to make his difference on the field.
But the mysterious girl of his dreams might be enough to break his cocky confidence.
Will Leo prevail with a last-minute 4th & Girl?
4th & Girl is the fourth book in the Mavericks Tackle Love series. This time new recruit Leo Landry gets the chance to fall in love with the woman of his dreams. He meets her in the most hilarious of ways, but doesn’t get her name. He’s forced to search for her, and she comes back into his life in yet another funny way.
Oh my goodness! Max Monroe has done it again! 4th & Girl is a romantic comedy gem. The laughs started from the very beginning and by the end I lost count how many times I laughed out loud. There were also some highly emotional and touching moments added into all of the fun. That is exactly what I expect when I pick up a book by this author duo.
Leo Landry was a little bit of a surprise to me. I was expecting him to be all confident and cocky due to being a college football star and now a professional player, but he was actually very well-rounded. I loved his humility and how he valued his family. He took his relationships and job seriously. Leo was one of those special romance characters that everyone is sure to be claiming as their next book boyfriend.
Gemma was also a great character. She felt like a real person because she was so easy to relate to. Gemma was trying to figure out life and what she wanted out of it. We have all been there at some point in our lives.
I adored Leo and Gemma’s romance. The fun of it was just so refreshing. I didn’t feel like I was reading just another sports romance. 4th and Girl was unique and quirky. I loved that. It also had some great emotional moments of truth between Leo and Gemma that were touching and added just enough deeper substance to their story.
Okay. There are some amazing secondary characters I can’t leave out of this review. Abby, Gemma’s best friend, was hilarious. I seriously need to know more about her. I am hoping Max Monroe will give her a book of her own even though the Mavericks Tackle Love series is ending. She’s just too funny of a character to never see again.
4th & Girl was such a joy to read. This review doesn’t even do it justice. It was so entertaining! Time flew by when I was reading it. Leo and Gemma’s romance was delightfully charming. From the way they met to the very end, I couldn’t get enough of them together. I was so sad to see this book and series end. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see what Max Monroe have up their sleeves next.
Note: 4th & Girl can be read as a standalone novel, but I don’t know why you would want to miss out on the hilariously witty writing in those first three books. This book and the entire series is so much fun to read. You really don’t want to miss out on any of it.
4th & Girl, an all-new standalone romantic comedy in the Mavericks Tackle Love series from Max Monroe, is available now!
A secret duo of romance authors team up under the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling pseudonym Max Monroe to bring you sexy, laugh-out-loud reads.
Max Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than ten contemporary romance titles. Favorite writing partners and long time friends, Max and Monroe strive to live and write all the fun, sexy swoon so often missing from their Facebook newsfeed. Sarcastic by nature, their two writing souls feel like they’ve found their other half. This is their most favorite adventure thus far.
Once Upon a River Author: Diane Setterfield Publication Date: December 4, 2018 Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.
Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.
Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
Or can it be explained by science?
Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.
Once Upon a River is not the typical book I would read. It’s a historical fantasy that’s highly character driven. The reason I picked it up is because of my love for Diane Setterfield’s first book, The Thirteenth Tale. While this book didn’t quite reach my love for that book, I still found it an interesting and engaging read.
Once Upon a River feels like reading a folktale. It’s set along the Thames river, and revolves around the mystery of a girl who is plucked from the river. At first, she seems to be dead. Then, she is alive. More than one person claims she is theirs. No one really knows what to make of it all. It’s a giant mystery that slowly unravels through multiple points of view over time.
To be honest, it took me a few chapters to really get into this book and it’s story. There is a lot of detail and many characters to follow. Once I was invested in the story and the mystery of the little girl, I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened to her and what part all of the people played. I won’t go into the plot more because I don’t want to give anything away, but I was impressed by the outcome and the revelations. I had some ideas of what had happened, but very few of them were true. Once Upon a River ended up surprising me and I loved that!
I feel like I need to point out that this is a story that builds gradually over many pages. At 480 pages long, Once Upon a River is not a short book. It’s slower paced and takes a while to build momentum. While some might shy away from reading it for those reasons, I actually found myself liking how it built and the time it took to tie everything together. That’s not something I normally say, as I like faster paced reading experiences. Overall, Once Upon a River was a well written and plotted book.